At 6-foot-11 and 270 pounds, with incredible leaping ability, the Orlando Magic's Dwight Howard is arguably the NBA's foremost physical specimen. As he plays on the interior, he's often in position to mix it up with other players, be they friend or foe. Anytime NBA-caliber athletes are confined in such a small space, they're liable to get hurt anyway. Adding Howard only raises the stakes.
Marcin Gortat, the Phoenix Suns center who played with Howard for three-plus seasons in Orlando, told SB Nation's Seth Pollack "you can end up in the hospital" if you aren't "prepared" to face Howard inside. Given his history with Howard, Gortat would know. Here's a list of five players whom Howard has inadvertently harmed just because he's so darn huge.
Howard robbed Battie, his best friend, of his entire 2007/08 season just weeks before training camp. Battie tore the labrum in his left shoulder trying to defend Howard in the low post and underwent surgery prior to the start of the season. Battie returned for the 2008/09 campaign.
In a Nov. 6, 2007 practice, Nelson collided with Howard's elbow, giving him a concussion. He played the next night gainst the Toronto Raptors and tallied 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. To combat the effects of the concussion, Nelson began wearing a mouthguard, which he continues to do to this day.
Acquired from the L.A. Lakers in a midseason trade, Cook took the minutes that would have otherwise gone to Battie. But on April Fool's Day, Howard tried blocking a shot from Cook in practice and instead broke the middle finger on Cook's right (shooting) hand. He didn't play the rest of the season, but did appear in 21 games for the Magic in 2008/09 before they dealt him to the Houston Rockets at the trading deadline.
Lee made quite an impression throughout the league in his rookie campaign, in which he progressed from playing spot-minutes off the bench to starting in the NBA Finals. But an elbow from Howard cost Lee three games in the playoffs. Both players tried rebounding a Philadelphia 76ers miss in Game 5 of their first-round series. Howard got the board, but Lee got Howard's elbow and a fractured sinus. After surgery, he returned to the floor--sporting a protective facemask--ten days later.
The lone opponent of Howard's on this list, Rose twice collided with the behemoth in separate games against the Magic last season. On February 10th, he lasted just 2:24 before absorbing a hard foul from Howard at the basket in a game the Magic went on to win by 20. One month later, he played the first quarter only due to injuring his left wrist once again trying to score against Howard at the basket. Orlando won this contest by a 19-point margin. Rose missed the Bulls' next three games.
If you squint, you've got a wacky smallball lineup I'm sure Don Nelson would love to coach listed above. And they have hard hits from Howard in common.